Michael A. Stecker


AstroPeople 1
(Chile and Bolivia)
Astro-People 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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Chile, 1996

Dr. William (Bill) Liller is a retired professor from
Harvard University and earlier the University of Michigan.
While at Harvard he was Professor and Chairman (1960-1966) of their astronomy
department. He now lives in Chile with his wife Matty and describes
himself as "a born again amateur astronomer". He is still very active
and has discovered many novas from his home observatory.

Chairmen of Harvard University's astronomy department from 1945 to 2016:

from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Liller
William Liller, Ph.D. (born 1927) is an American astronomer, a graduate of the University of Michigan, discoverer of two minor planets and several novae, and former Robert Wheeler Wilson Professor of Applied Astronomy at Harvard University. He discovered the comet C/1988 A1 Liller.  He is an author of several popular books on the subject of astronomy, a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and AAVSO. He was also awarded with the Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences. The minor planet 3222 Liller was named in his honor.


Dr. William Liller (right) and myself at his home in Chile


Thanks to the help of Bill Liller, my friend James Foster and I traveled to Chile in February, 1996 to photograph the southern night sky.
James is on the left, Dr. Miguel Roth in the center and me on the right.


Dr. Miguel Roth (left), Director of Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory
greets Michael Stecker. The Observatory is located in the Atacama
desert of northern Chile. Currently Carnegie is building twin 6.5 meter
telescopes (Project Magellan) at this site. The new telescopes will
be shared by its members -- Carnegie Institution, Univ. of Arizona,
Harvard Univ., Univ. of Michigan (my alma mater) and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In February, 1996
my friend James Foster and I spent 10 nights doing astrophotography
at the observatory.

Las Campanas Observatory (February, 1996 photo) is one of several observatories found in northern Chile. The next mountain to the south is the
home of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Many miles to the north ESO is building the largest telescope in the world -- the VLT. The most famous employee of the Carnegie Observatories was Edwin Hubble who among other things discovered that our universe is expanding. This revelation
led Albert Einstein to say that his Cosmological Constant was the greatest mistake
he had made in his theories.


Felipe Mac-Auliffe was the telescope operator of the University of Toronto Telescope and our gracious host at Canada House, Carnegie
Las Campanas Observatory


Lake Titicaca, Boliva, 1996

Led by Ken Willcox, the Astronomical League sponsored the first Southern Skies Star Party in June, 1996.  It was held at the Hotel Inca Utama -- Huatajata, Bolivia on the shore of  Lake Titicaca . The altitude of this highest commercially navigable lake is about 12,500 feet.
In the front next to the llama is "doctor" Tata Lorenzo.  He is a natural healer who uses guineapigs for the diagnosis of disease and treats his patients with herbal drugs.  He is also an accomplished fortune teller using cocoa leaves in his predictions.  In the front row at the right (wearing a black NASA shirt) is NASA scientist Fred Espenak from whom this picture was obtained.  In the back row, just to the right of the fellow with the red hat is comedian "Bobby" Bob Seibel (wearing a white sweat shirt).  He kept the group laughing with his many jokes.  Iam in the last row, second from the right.

A close-up shot of  Dr. Lorenzo and friend at the hotel